I stepped outside today in my bare feet onto a dry spot of ground. I stood next to the dog and cat who were sharing my little dirt patch and let the sun bathe me in Vitamin D. I took off my coat and was tempted to put on a t-shirt because I was getting so warm, after all it was a balmy 35 degrees. Sounds cold if you are reading this in Florida or Mexico, but for us here in Minnesota today is a 60 degree increase in temp from a week ago. It's almost a heat wave, this sounds especially strange considering that in Texas they are in a deep freeze. This isn't the first time the weather has felt a little funny, like things were backwards or upside down. And I know I'm not the only one to notice, all you have to do is turn on the news and you are inundated with phrases like "climate change", "Paris climate accords", "sustainable resources", and "green energy", amongst many more. It seems like we have been talking about environmental concerns for a while and suddenly we have jumped head first into action. The environmental crisis debates are increasingly more challenging to follow. Suddenly there is more depth to the conversation and answers are not as easy as originally thought.
When the idea of all electric cars was presented, at first glance it seemed amazing, no emissions! Yay! But what about the mining for the material to build the batteries for those cars? What about the plethora of cars that already run on gas? Do we just throw them away? Do we convert them? What will that cost be? Would it be a better idea to reduce drivers instead and have less cars on the road? Maybe reinvest in public transportation, encourage more incentive for companies to provide work from home opportunities? Create efficient cross country train travel? More commuter friendly neighborhoods? Could we advocate for busses for after school activities to reduce 55 suburbans parked by the curb after soccer practice? Maybe encouragement for households to have one car instead of five (like we have...)? So many questions and who has the answer? The left? Maybe. The right? Maybe. Most likely its someone in the middle.
What about the idea of wind and solar energy? Another fantastic dream at first glance, but look at what is happening in Texas right now. Or look at some challenges other countries utilizing wind power have faced. Sometimes there is no wind. What do you do then? Build bigger more efficient batteries to store power for those times? Great! More mining for batteries. Maybe create a hybrid blend of energy: wind/electricity/fossil fuels/solar? Another great idea but maybe a little overkill and what would it take to switch back and forth, how much manufacturing would have to go into create a system for that switch? Maybe not that practical of a solution and certainly not accessible for all nations. Maybe we could be a little less dependent on energy to being with? On a sunny day could we keep all the lights off? Could we build houses with windows that are strategically placed to allow sunlight to be the primary light source all day long? Could we tolerate a slightly lower temperature in our house during the winter and a slightly higher temp in summer? Could we go a whole day without using any electricity? Who has the answer to this challenge? The left? Maybe. The right? Maybe. Most likely its someone in the middle.
What about agriculture? How do we solve this problem? More genetically modified crops? Less genetically modified crops? Should we eat less meat? Should we garden more? Should we subsidize farmers? What about overfarming and stripping the land of its resources? Can we just put some resourced back in there? Or do we need to let the land rest? Could we continue to rotate crops or could we get creative and find a cycle of animals and crops? Could we let sheep graze in a crop field one season and then let chickens pick and poop their way through it the next? Could we create more urban green space? Could we teach individuals how to garden in their apartments? Would that require more energy? More resources? Is the payoff worth it? Maybe we could just eat less food? It probably wouldn't hurt.
So. Many. Questions.
And honestly there is probably not one right answer. The key to saving our planet is going to be multi-pronged and going to be a work in progress. The biggest question I have and the biggest question I don't think is addressed is: What can I do?? What can the individual consumer do?? How do we make a change that has impact and meaning? Maybe we can't afford to convert our house to solar energy and maybe we don't agree with the logic. We don't have to make or be part of big industrial change, perhaps we will be and perhaps we will all be forced at some point to do these things, but for now there are some very simple and easy things EVERYONE could do to make a difference.
Try a few or try all of these ideas. Figure out what works for you and just do it. Encourage your friends and family to do the same. Teach your kids to enjoy the natural light, teach them how to fix things so they have that skill, teach them efficiency. Share with friends and co-workers. Suggest a walk to the store to run errands with a coworker over lunch (if your location permits). Just do something. Too often we are plagued with the idea that our efforts don't matter. They do. Especially if we all do something. I think Im going to start with the lights out snuggle time :). I like the immediate benefits of that effort...
How about you? What will you change?
Share privately or in a comment if you want, I would love to hear from everyone.